Dr. Lee Forester of the Hope College German faculty is hoping to revolutionize the way computers are used in foreign language instruction.

          Forester is the developer and lead coordinator of
  "Germany: Live!," a collaborative effort to develop
  computer-based, multi-media teaching materials for first-
  year German courses at the college level.  The project
  recently received $50,000 through the Foundation for
  Independent Higher Education's 1998 "Ameritech Distance
  Collaboration Grants" Program.
          Forester believes that students learn a language
  more effectively when they not only study the words and
  rules of grammar involved, but also experience the
  language's cultural context.  He hopes to exploit the
  computer's ability to blend audio, visuals and the written
  word, to give students the next best thing to being there.
          "Multi-media has tremendous potential to deliver
  experiential learning because it engages more of the senses,
  but it hasn't been fully exploited yet because people are
  thinking in terms of other media," said Forester, who is an
  associate professor of German.
          "I want to hit every part of the brain that I
  can," he said.  "Because you learn better when you engage
  multiple modalities."
          Forester even hopes, for example, to include
  typical background sounds, such as those found in a German
  downtown, to help provide as complete a sense of the setting
  as possible.  His aim is to help students view language
  study not as an end, but as a tool for communicating in and
  understanding another country.
          "This is going to be a culture course designed as
  a language course," he said.  "Because the two cannot be
  separated, in my opinion."
          In addition to Hope, the participating schools are
  Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Taylor University in Upland,
  Ind., and Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.
          The four schools will provide insights into the
  general design and content that should be pursued, and will
  also help test the initial modules.  Technical expertise
  will be provided by David Antoniuk of Archview Media in
  Oakland, Calif.
          The recently-received grant will provide support
  as the team develops the first prototypical modules in what
  Forester hopes will become a set of 80 to 100, available on
  CD-ROM or DVD.  The package will be intended to serve as the
  students' textbook outside of class.
          Work will begin in earnest during the forthcoming
  spring semester, while Forester is on a sabbatical leave.
  He and Antoniuk will spend about six weeks in Germany
  collecting authentic language learning materials through
  photography, videotaping, audio recording and writing
          Forester plans to have the initial two modules
  completed by October of 1999.  He hopes to complete the
  remainder within two years.